Serves a Crowd

Slab Shortcake with Roasted Rhubarb

May 10, 2018
4 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Makes one 13x18 inch (1/2 sheet tray) shortcake / serves a crowd
Author Notes

I’ve been making iterations of this shortcake recipe for years. I like a really biscuity base, and I’ve tweaked a much loved recipe passed down from my mother a few times to get this lovely shortcake. In this slab version, I pressed the biscuit base into a baking sheet to make a giant, easily sliceable shortcake that’s perfect for picnics, barbecues, or any time you’ve got to serve a crowd. Roast the rhubarb at the same time as the biscuit bakes and assemble once they’re cool. Or swap out the fruit with the seasons and use fresh fruit, lightly macerated. Best of all, it’s insanely easy and always looks like a million bucks. —Erin Jeanne McDowell

What You'll Need
  • Slab Shortcake Biscuit
  • 5 cups (602 g) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (159 g) light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (24 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (6 g) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3 g) fine sea salt
  • 1 pound (453 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 1/3 cups (322 g) cold buttermilk
  • 2 (113 g) large eggs
  • 1 (27 g) large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) vanilla extract
  • 1 egg + 2 tablespoons heavy cream, for egg wash
  • 1 handful turbinado sugar, as needed for finishing
  • Topping
  • 12 stalks rhubarb, chopped into 1 inch segments
  • 1/3 cup (67 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 12 ounces (227 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (113 g) powdered sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups (846 g) cold heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 13x18 inch baking sheet (half sheet pan) generously with nonstick spray.
  2. Make the biscuit: in a food processor, pulse the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until they are the size of peas or smaller. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. (Note: you can also do this by hand, but it will take a bit longer.)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla together to combine. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and mix well to combine. The mixture should be uniform – no dry flour patches – I use my hands to make sure it’s combined – try not to overmix.
  4. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press into an even layer (you can lightly moisten your hands if necessary). In a small bowl, whisk the egg and cream together to combine. Brush the mixture over the biscuit (you should use the whole thing), then sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar.
  5. There’s two ways you can bake the biscuit, depending on your preferences. For a lighter, fluffier, cakier biscuit, bake on the middle shelf of the oven until the biscuit is evenly golden brown on top and when pressed in the center it seems set, 30-35 minutes. For a crispier, more biscuit-like biscuit, extend baking time until the biscuit is very brown on top, 5-10 minutes more.
  6. In a large bowl, toss the rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla bean to combine. Spread the rhubarb onto a baking sheet and roast in the lower third of the oven until just tender, 25-30 minutes.
  7. Let the biscuit and the rhubarb cool completely.
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, mix the cream cheese and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the cream gradually and until very thick and smooth (medium peaks), 4-5 minutes. Mix in the vanilla.
  9. You can make all three components of the shortcake up to 1 day ahead, but it’s best to assemble just before serving. Once assembled, it will start to get a little soggy within 1-2 hours.
  10. To assemble, spread the whipped cream onto the biscuit in an even layer. Spoon the rhubarb mixture and it’s juices on top and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • JoMarie Ricketts
    JoMarie Ricketts
  • Erin Jeanne McDowell
    Erin Jeanne McDowell
  • m
  • Maria
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!

7 Reviews

m June 17, 2018
I made a half-recipe of this yesterday.

This is not a dessert I would make again (with the exception of the roasted rhubarb, which became an instant staple for me, minus the vanilla.) The base didn't taste or feel like "biscuit" *at all.* It's cake, and not particularly interesting cake. The cream-cheese enriched whipped cream was stable, as promised, but unremarkable.

Maybe at block party or PTA meeting where people are used to eating cakes from a box or a supermarket this might be special, but I would much prefer shortcake made from Bisquick than this.
Maria May 30, 2018
Think I could I halve this for an 8x8 pan? It looks delicious! (Though I would add more fruit than pictured ;) )
JoMarie R. June 17, 2018
I think you could have it for a 9x13 pan as that would be half the size of the original. 8x8 is closer to 1/4
saracooks May 28, 2018
Is there a weight for the rhubarb? Looking to scale it for a mash up of the 'not so short-cake' with strawberry rhubarb topping?
Erin J. May 29, 2018
Sorry for the delayed reply! I weighed in on the hotline, too!
Martin B. May 23, 2018
Looks great. I'm definitely going to try this.

I have a question. Is US shortbread essentially the same as the British scone? The ingredients look near identical apart from the higher proportions of sugar and butter in the shortbread, but that could be due to differing taste palates (here in the UK I usually have to cut the sugar in Food52 cake recipes by 10% and drop it entirely from savoury and bread recipes).
Erin J. May 27, 2018
The term biscuit can mean different things here in the US - this recipe refers to what I call a “drop biscuit” - this is a looser batter that is dropped in scoops onto baking sheets. They are a little crisp around the outside, and very soft and fluffy inside. A bit softer than some UK scones, I would say. These biscuits are really very barely sweet, but if you were worried you could skip the turbinado sugar on top!